Training in Drug Abuse
Behavioral Neuroscience Program
Predoctoral Training in Research on Drug Abuse
(Supported by a training grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, T32-DA07244-21-25)
Updated: November 2011
The Predoctoral Training in Research on Drug Abuse training grant provides interdisciplinary, graduate training in research areas related to drug and alcohol abuse. The objective of this program, now in its 5th, 5-year renewal period as a NIDA-supported training grant, continues to be the preparation of predoctoral students for research careers. Students are drawn from the Department of Psychology and the Curriculum in Neurobiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Training laboratories are located at several sites throughout the University, including the Departments of Psychology, Pharmacology, and Psychiatry as well as laboratories affiliated with the Neurobiology Curriculum, and the Center for Alcohol Studies.
The environment offered by UNC/Chapel Hill is particularly well suited for training in research related to drug abuse. First of all, the faculty includes a core of individuals whose research and teaching activities provide a broad spectrum of high quality research training opportunities. These include behavioral pharmacology of drugs of abuse, neurobiology of opioid and dopamine systems, neuropharmacology of ethanol and other drugs of abuse, genetics and drugs of abuse, cognitive factors in addiction, investigations of the immune system and drugs of abuse and the progression of adolescent substance abuse. Secondly, interaction among investigators provides a strong collaborative environment for training students. Students receive background training in the basic neural and behavioral sciences. More focused training related to drug abuse comes from a variety of interdepartmental courses, seminars and extensive laboratory research. Students who complete this program also receive training in teaching and communication, and are provided many opportunities to develop their professional leadership skills.
Upon completion of their training, students are prepared to pursue a career related to drug abuse in academic, research, or clinical settings. In the last 20+ years, this program has provided doctoral training for over 55 students and many of those students now hold either teaching, research, or clinically-oriented positions related to drug abuse.
The drug abuse research training program draws on faculty, resources, and students from the department of Psychology and the Neurobiology Curriculum. Students concentrate their first years of training on completing requirements within their home department or curriculum. In addition, students in the drug abuse research training program take several interdepartmental courses and seminars related to the area of drug abuse. Students receive training in formal course work, laboratory experience, communication skills, and ethics as well as postgraduate preparation involving grant writing, and leadership development programs. Students receive their research training in a variety of settings, providing them with a well rounded learning environment.
The program is designed to strike a balance between course work, research, and teaching experiences. Students are strongly encouraged to articulate their knowledge and research findings through scholarship, publication, presentation at professional meetings, and teaching.
Interdisciplinary seminars available to training grant students:
Neurobiology of Ethanol and Drugs of Abuse
Behavioral Neuroscience and Drug Addiction
Pain, Analgesia, and Analgesics
Current Topics in Neuroimaging
Financial Support for Predoctoral Students:
The Predoctoral Training in Research on Drug Abuse program provides its students with a variety of financial support. Student's full tuition, fees, and health insurance are covered by the program. In addition, a competitive stipend is provided as well as funds for travel to conferences and professional meetings.
Core Faculty and Research Areas:
Boettiger, Charlotte Assistant Professor, Psychology and Curriculum in Neurobiology. Ph.D., University of California/San Francisco, Area of Research: Cognitive factors in addiction, with a focus on neuroimaging data.Website: http://www.unc.edu/~cab/
Carelli, Regina M. Stephen B. Baxter Distinguished Professor, Psychology and Director of Behavioral Neuroscience Program Ph.D., Rutgers University, 1991 Area of Research: Behavioral neurophysiological investigation of brain reward processing Website: http://www.unc.edu/~rcarelli/
Curran, Patrick, Professor, Psychology and Director, L.L. Thurstone Psychometric Laboratory Ph.D., Arizona State University, 1994 Area of Research: Structural equation modeling, growth curve analysis and adolescent substance use. Website: http://www.unc.edu/~curran/
Dykstra, Linda A., Kenan Distinguished Professor, Psychology and Pharmacology Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1972 Area of Research: Behavioral and pharmacological investigations of opioid analgesics, drugs of abuse, and other compounds. Website: http://www.unc.edu/~lyd2481/
Fuchs Lockensgard, Rita, Associate Professor, Psychology Ph.D., Arizona State University, 2000 Area of Research: Role of associative learning and memory in cue-induced relapse to drug seeking. Website: http://www.unc.edu/~rfuchs/
Hodge, Clyde W., Professor, Psychiatry Ph.D., Auburn University, 1991 Area of Research: Neurobehavioral pharmacology and pharmacogenomics of addiction. Website: http://www.med.unc.edu/alcohol/faculty/HodgeCW/Hodge.htm
Hussong, Andrea M., Professor, Psychology, Director, Center for Developmental Science Ph.D., Arizona State University, 1996, Area of Research: Developmental studies of the social and familial influences associated with adolescent substance use and comorbid disorders among high risk youth. Website: http://www.unc.edu/~ahussong/
Johns, Josephine, Professor, Psychology and Psychiatry Ph.D., University of Georgia, 1988 Area of Research: Effects of drugs of abuse on maternal behavior and aggression, and the effects of prenatal exposure to drugs on offspring development and behavior. Website: http://www.unc.edu/~jjohns/
Lysle, Donald T., Kenan Distinguished Professor and Department Chair, Psychology Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 1986 Area of Research: Psychoneuroimmunology, the effects of conditioning on lymphocyte reactivity. Website: http://www.unc.edu/~dlysle/
MacPhail, Robert, Research Psychologist, Environmental Protection Agency, Ph.D., Univ Maryland/College Park, 1973 Area of Research: Behavioral effects of environmental chemicals (including drugs of abuse) on nervous system functions.
Morgan-Lopez, Antonio, Associate Professor. Ph.D., Arizona State University, 2003. Area of Research:Quantitative Psychology; model development for assessing treatment interventions for substance abuse.
Picker, Mitchell J., Professor, Psychology Ph.D., Western Michigan University, 1984 Area of Research: Behavioral pharmacology, drug tolerance and cross-tolerance Website: http://www.unc.edu/~mjpicker/
Thiele, Todd, Professor, Psychology Ph.D., Kansas State University, 1995 Area of Research: Neurobiology of alcoholism, employing both genetic and pharmacological manipulations. Website: http://www.unc.edu/~thiele/
Wightman, Mark, Kenan Distinguished Professor, Chemistry Ph.D., University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill 1974 Area of Research: Neurochemistry, electrochemistry Website: http://www.chem.unc.edu/people/faculty/wightman/
What our graduates are doing:
The predoctoral drug abuse research training program has been the stepping stone to careers in many different fields related to drug abuse research. Recent graduates of our program have gone on to hold research and teaching positions at major universities, smaller liberal arts schools, and research centers. Numerous graduates of the program have gone on to receive external funding and are making contributions of their own in a variety of areas relating to drug abuse research. Graduates of the predoctoral program in drug abuse over the last 10 years are currently working at the following sites: